25 Jan 2017

AFP assistant commissioner to head Solomon Islands police force

3:30 pm on 25 January 2017

A Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner is to become the new commissioner of police in Solomon Islands.

New graduates from the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force Academy. December 2015

New graduates from the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force Academy. December 2015 Photo: RNZI Courtesy of RSIPF

A parade to welcome Matthew Varley and farewell outgoing commissioner Frank Prendergast, who is also a former AFP officer, will be held on Wednesday afternoon at the Rove Police Grounds in Honiara.

The Island Sun newspaper reports Matthew Varley, who has taken a leave of absence from the AFP to take up his new role, is the most senior ranking officer to take charge of the RSIPF.

However the paper says it is unclear whether the role was advertised or whether Mr Varley was hand-picked for the country's top policing role.

Solomon Fresh-beat online reports that under the tenure of the outgoing commissioner Frank Prendergast, which began in 2014, there have been a lot of significant developments made to policing in Solomon Islands including the introduction of breath-testing, more active policing of domestic and gender based violence and the setting up of a joint anti-corruption taskforce.

Solomon Islands Police Commissioner Frank Prendergast, (foreground).

The outgoing Solomon Islands Police Commissioner Frank Prendergast (foreground) Photo: RNZI/ Koroi Hawkins

Matthew Varley's appointment comes at an important time for Solomon Islands police with the departure of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands in July after 14 years of development, security and policing support to the country.

The previous five Solomon Islands police commissioners have been from the UK, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

The last Solomon Islander to hold the top policing job was Morton Siriheti in the year 2000.

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